Once every ten years, California experiences one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the country: a super bloom. This rare explosion of desert color occurs when a large proportion of the wildflowers spring up and bloom at the same time of year.
Because the seeds lie dormant for so long, it is truly a spectacular display that can only take place under certain weather conditions.
Let’s learn more so you can make plans to witness California’s super bloom in 2023!
When is California Wildflower Season?
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Southern California. The weather is still nice before the summer heat hits. And if the area has received enough sun and precipitation in the past few months, the wildflowers will bloom.
Peak season is usually mid-March, but from February through May you can enjoy the stunning array of vibrant colors and sweet scents of spring.
What common wildflowers bloom in California?
In southern California, you can see several dozen wildflowers as part of the annual spring bloom. When they all erupt at once, you have the stunning scenes of a super bloom.
Common wildflowers include California and Matilija poppies, desert and butterfly lilies, daisy flea flower, dune evening primrose, and desert dandelions.
Lupin, Bush Sunflower, Wild Morning Glory, Monkey Flower, Indian Paintbrush, Wild Sage, and Western Goldenrod are other wildflowers that flourish in this region.
Finally, Joshua Tree and various cactus plants will also flourish, adding to the diversity of life.
What Causes a Superbloom?
With climate change creating a drier, hotter environment and excess tourists stomping the ground, super blooms have become less common. Continued development and invasive species also threaten the region.
This is why a super bloom is almost exclusively restricted to state parks and national parks where plant life is protected. These flower bursts generally occur in the undisturbed habitats of the deserts of the southwestern United States.
Due to the abundance of rain the Golden State has received, experts and botanists expect a brilliant bloom in 2023. In the last 20 years, Southern California has witnessed three such natural phenomena: 2005, 2017, and 2019.
The most important factor in a potential super bloom is a good wet year with consistent rain for several months. A few days of flash flooding is not enough. Other conditions are cool night temperatures and a well-stocked seed bank.
7 Places to See the California Superbloom
If you are trying to witness this floral explosion, you must do so responsibly. Walk carefully on designated paths so as not to disturb future seedlings and potential beautiful flowers. Here are seven of the best places in Southern California to see this natural phenomenon.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park
California’s largest state park, Anza Borrego Desert State Park , is also one of the most popular places to view wildflowers. This means more traffic and more crowds, so keep that in mind.
But it’s popular for a reason. The state park is home to over a hundred species of blooming wildflowers and cacti. Head to Henderson Canyon Road, the visitor center, and Borrego Palm Canyon for great viewing spots.
Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve
If you want to witness the blooming of California’s state flower, head to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve where thousands of these bright orange flowers grace the hills.
Mid-February to mid-May are the best months to see super bloom here, and there are no bad locations. Head out on one of the trails to witness this glorious phenomenon.
Death Valley National Park
Due to the varying elevations in Death Valley National Park the super bloom can be seen from mid-February to mid-April at the bottom of the valley and through June and July above 5,000 feet.
Desert gold colors the fields yellow, with white and purple in between. This national park in California is usually a great place to see a beautiful landscape with the strong contrasts of the rocks and the vibrant colors. However, 2023 may be questionable due to the lack of rain in this region.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree, another of California’s eight national parks, is an excellent place to see the super bloom of 2023.
The 1,200 square miles of the Colorado and Mojave deserts light up the landscape in spring when wildflowers come to life. It is also one of the best places to see different colors. Red, yellow, purple, and blue fill the landscape in spring.
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Located one hundred miles northwest of Los Angeles Carrizo Plain National Monument. These rolling hills and meadows may remind you of Pennsylvania and not California.
Oranges, yellows, and purples cover the land from late March to late April. It is important to note that the national monument is located in the middle of nowhere. You’ll probably have to stay in Bakersfield (69 miles away) or Pismo Beach (81 miles away).
Laguna Coast Natural Park
More than 7,000 acres of wilderness surround Laguna Beach, making this popular tourist destination appeal to more than just beachgoers.
To witness the brilliant bloom of 2023, head to the 40 miles of hiking trails at Laguna Coast Nature Park . Bike through beautiful canyons and enjoy panoramic views. The peak time for wildflowers is late April.
Recreation area on Mount Figueroa
A lesser known area along the central California coast is the Mount Figueroa Recreation Area .
From mid-March to mid-May, visitors can witness the blooming season of bluebells, buttercups, milkmaids, chocolate lilies, scarlet Indian brush, poppies, and more.
The explosion of colors lights up the summit about 50 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.
When is the best time to visit the parks to see the Superbloom?
Each location has its own high season. But generally March and early April is the best time to visit these parks.
Areas with higher elevations may continue to bloom well into summer, but most parks will see this burst of color in early to mid-spring.
Check the details on each park’s website for a more specific time period.
Tips for a Safe Superbloom
Regardless of where you choose to watch the 2023 Superbloom, here are some tips for enjoying the experience and making sure others can too.
Do not forget that this natural phenomenon is increasingly rare. You do not want your footprint to contribute to the prevention of future occurrences.
wear appropriate clothing
Many of these places are located in desert areas. Wear layered clothing as it is cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon, and cool again at night.
Also, weather conditions can vary greatly, so always pay attention to the weather forecast and dress appropriately. Also wear comfortable shoes.
Always carry water with you when you go out into nature. Especially if the locations are wilderness or remote locations, you may be far from a water source.
If you are going to walk for several hours, drink a liter of water for every two hours of walking. Don’t allow yourself to be thirsty. Keep drinking water, even if you think you don’t need it. Dehydration is a serious problem in desert environments.
Watch out for wildlife
When you enter a state park or national park, you enter the outdoor habitat. So pay close attention to the animals.
Snakes, lizards, coyotes, and other wildlife native to Southern California usually won’t hurt you if you’re careful. But be vigilant so you don’t accidentally disturb them.
Protect the flowers: stay on the paths
One of the principles is to stay on the trails. Even rural areas will have worn trails where others have walked before.
This will help prevent wildlife encounters and protect the fragile ecosystem and plant life you witnessed. Do not destroy seedlings and flowers by getting out of the way. A superbloom is already a rarity.
Please note: Have you heard? National Parks Week is coming up! What parks will you visit?
Treat the Superbloom with respect
Finally, as staying on the path or trail is part of Leave No Trace, respecting the flowers by not pulling them is also paramount.
Take as many photos as you want, but don’t take the flowers. This also takes into account others who want to see the superbloom. Also, take your trash with you. Dispose of your trash properly so you don’t spoil the beauty of the season or endanger wildlife in the area.
Enjoy the beauty of California flowers in 2023
California Superbloom 2023 is coming up. It may not return for another decade or more. So it’s time to make plans to witness this visual explosion of colors.